Vlad Dascalu rode to a strong second place on an EXTREMELY muddy course
Muddy conditions in Leogang made a mess of an already-demanding course. But Vlad Dascalu, as he has all season, thrived under adversity. He overcame a litany of small mistakes to grind his way to a second-place finish and his best ever result in World Cup short track racing.
Dascalu battled the entire race with Vital Albin, Henrique Avancini and eventual winner Mathias Flückiger near the front. He looked strong throughout, except for a deeply rutted and muddy stretch just ahead of a steep bridge climb early in every lap. Like several other riders, Dascalu was forced to run the ascent twice after slowing to a near stop in the muck or piling up with other riders. As a result, he found himself expending energy to chase back onto the leaders.
The mistakes were only slight, however, and he made up for them by posting the fastest time on the last lap to give himself plenty of breathing room to his nearest competitors. He finished 11 seconds behind Flückiger, and 10 seconds ahead of third-place Albin.
“I did some mistakes before the bridge. I was walking the bridge some laps, so I lost some good seconds there,” Dascalu said after the race. “But the legs were good and I can’t wait for Sunday.”
Prior to Friday, Dascalu’s best result in a World Cup short track race was his fourth-place finish in Nové Město last May. He failed to start or complete his short track races in Petropolis and Albstadt due to a mechanical issue and illness, respectively.
Teammate Anton Cooper also had a strong short track race in Leogang, finishing eighth. Both riders will start on the front row for Sunday’s Olympic-distance race. Conditions are projected to be MUCH drier, which should come as a relief to all the riders. The Leogang course features 725 feet of climbing per lap, and faster conditions should make a grueling race at least slightly more bearable.
Jolanda Neff will start on the second row in the women’s race after finishing 12th in Friday’s short track. A faster-rolling course should suit the Olympic champion well. All three of Trek Factory Racing’s elite riders in Leogang have a lot to look forward to. Here’s to blue skies in the Austrian Alps.